It's official - the Vancouver Whitecaps will join Major League Soccer for the 2011 season. MLS commissioner Don Garber made the announcement at a packed press conference at the Westin Bayshore earlier today. Garber praised the team's ownership group for convincing MLS that Vancouver was a viable market for its 17th franchise.
So, what do the Whitecaps have to do with the Vancouver technology community. Plenty.
The Whitecaps ownership group is lead by current Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot and now includes NBA star Steve Nash, Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Luczo, and San Francisco Giants co-owner Jeff Mallett. That gives half the ownership group deep roots in the tech industry.
Burnaby-raised Kerfoot graduated from UBC in Computer Science and has blazed a trail in the Vancouver tech scene ever since. After spending five years developing ACCPAC for Computer Associates, Kerfoot started Crystal Reports which morphed into Crystal Decisions after being acquired by Seagate Technology in 1994 and then being sold off to an investment group in 2000. Along the way Kerfoot cashed in culminating with the Business Objects acquistion of Crystal Decsions in 2003 for over $820 Million.
New to the ownership group is San Francisco Giants co-owner Jeff Mallett. Silicon Valley-based Mallett is best known for his role as President and Chief Operating Officer of Yahoo from 1995-2002 but few know that he once studied business and played soccer at the University of Victoria. As Yahoo's 10th employee, Mallett earned the in-house nickname "Sparky" and helped drive the extraordinary growth of the company during its formative years.
While Kerfoot is notoriously publicity-shy, the local Vancouver tech community should benefit from having Mallett reconnected with his BC roots and heading North for Whitecap-related events in the future.